As everyone who watches my film reviews knows… I am a big fan of a happy ending and a sucker for happiness in general. Unsurprisingly, my favourite (and much loved) lesbian film is therefore Imagine Me & You. Here is that rare thing: a lesbian film, without unnecessary angst, that is actually charming and cheering to watch.
We open in picture-perfect London on the day of Rach’s wedding to her longtime boyfriend and best friend Heck (played by Piper Perabo and Matthew Goode). Everyone is there; friends, family and even the wedding’s florist Luce (played by Lena Headey). By the end of the reception, Luce has been taken up by Rach’s family, particularly her baby sister, and is becoming fast friends with the bride herself…
And thus we begin a rather-sweet romcom love triangle as Rachel quickly falls for the openly gay Luce. It’s a classic set up, minus the tired and unrealistic ‘comical’ misunderstandings but plus one of the rarest things- a central gay relationship that is positively presented. Despite the relationship starting with one of the women already being married to a man! The ‘already married issue’ is resolved incredibly quickly despite it being the main tension in the film. Interestingly most people involved seem perfectly okay with Rach falling in love with someone else, and leaving her marriage because that ‘someone’ is a girl.
I’m sure we could read very deeply into this, perhaps write some essays about masculinity and how two women being together seems to be considered as sexy in a humorous way. It’s an abstract (Cooper’s jokes and Rach’s mishaps with the porn video) but sweet and unsexed when it’s up close: “[Love] is all that matters”… It doesn’t necessarily respect the same sex relationship since it’s unlikely these characters would react in such a way were it a man Rach was running off with. However: I do think that this doesn’t have to stand in the way of enjoying the film.
Yes, the drama isn’t heart wrenching and, yes, the characters are a little too lovely but it’s a solid British romcom in the Love Actually vein. It’s sweet, it’s bland, it’s heartwarming, and that’s why, to me, it’s one of the best lesbian films of all time.
Here is a lesbian film about a life I want to lead, a wholly realistic one that I identify strongly with. Yes, certain characters are shocked when Rach comes out (mainly her mother, played by the fabulous Celia Imrie) but no one is at any point openly homophobic. Darren Boyd, as Heck’s friend Cooper, makes all of the cringy, sexist, but not intentionally rude, remarks about lesbians that we’ve all heard a hundred times. But he is only angry at his best friend being hurt by someone else entering the marriage, not because that someone is a woman.
No one dies, no one commits suicide, no one self harms, or tries to shoot someone- like the majority of lesbian films (ie. cliché central). There are also no titillating lesbian scenes clearly created for the pleasure of anyone but lesbians.
The film was written and directed by Ol Parker, also known for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, about old-age Britishness being shipped to India, and this film too comes straight from the Richard Curtis school of positivity and charm.
Not everyone experiences being gay and coming out as a big trauma, which- lets me honest- both indie films and Hollywood seem to want us to believe. It’s nice to know that there are films out there that show the other side. This is a nice film about two nice girls who meet and fall in love with a little narrative complication that is easily resolved. There are thousands of nice, happy films about straight couples- don’t lesbians deserve one too?